All posts by Michael Gaspeny

Michael Gaspeny’s third chapbook, The Tyranny of Questions, is available now from Unicorn Press. A novella in verse, it dramatizes a suburban mother’s fight to overcome her demons in the 1960s. Gaspeny’s previous chapbooks are Re-Write Men and Vocation. He has won the Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition and the O. Henry Festival Short Story Contest. He has received the North Carolina Governor’s Award for Volunteer Excellence in recognition of his hospice service.

Corporal Hitler’s Show Dog – by Michael Gaspeny

During the Great War, Hitler rescued a terrier
sniffing oil in a crater. The dog lapped water
from Adolf’s palm, slid under his coat, snout
poking through the holes. Adolf named the boy
Fuchsl (The Fox) and taught him to entertain.

Climbing ladders and springing backwards,
Fuchsl brought the Big Top to the trenches.
A smitten lieutenant asked to buy him;
Adolf declined. But when Fuchsl was barred
from a troop train, the officer grabbed the dog.

Why couldn’t machine-gun fire
have aerated the future Fuehrer
as it soon riddled the lieutenant?
Why couldn’t Adolf, instead of Fuchsl,
have inspected a stick grenade?

I have faith the answers await me
at the Will Call window,
when I’m dragged away.

Image credit: Hitler Portrait 4 (a Nazi Third Reich Wallpaper Image from the Historical collection of has been colorized and sumperimposed with silhouettes of a terrier pursuing a rat.

Editor’s Note: The story about Hitler’s first dog as depicted in the poem:

Hitler’s first dog came to him when he was in the trenches during World War I. A small white Jack Russell terrier, apparently the property of an English soldier, was chasing a rat and inadvertently jumped in the trenches where Hitler was stationed. Hitler caught the terrier and made the dog his own. He called him Fuchsl, meaning Little Fox. Over twenty years later, Hitler would remember, “How many times at Fromelles, during the First World War, I studied my dog Fuchsl… I used to watch him as if he’d been a man. It was crazy how fond I was of the beast.”

In August of 1917, while Hitler’s regiment was on the way to Alsace for rest, a railroad official offered Hitler 200 marks for Fuchsl. Hitler refused, saying, “You could give me two hundred thousand and you wouldn’t get him!” But after Hitler had left the station with the troops, Hitler couldn’t find Fuchsl and realized that his cherished dog had been taken. “I was desperate,” he said, “the swine who stole my dog doesn’t know what he did to me.” [Ref.]